– Illinois high schoolers notched their highest graduation rate in a decade, as students’ academic growth outpaced pre-pandemic levels, under ISBE’s nationally acclaimed Learning Renewal Guide. The statistics are being released as part of the state’s annual Illinois Report Card
Additionally, every demographic group experienced accelerated growth in 2022 in both English language arts and math.
“Illinois students and educators are resilient, dedicated and have much to be proud of in their latest Report Card,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “I’m pleased that the growth in the graduation rate is driven by some of our most vulnerable students, and that all our students collectively are picking up their learning and demonstrating tremendous growth. Our plans to diversify and strengthen the teacher pipeline are beginning to yield fruit, as we defied the national trends and added 2,500 new teachers. Of course, we still have much work to do, but I am encouraged and proud to see that our children have a bright future.”
The 2022 school year saw average student growth
in the 54th percentile in English language arts and the 52nd percentile in math, compared to 2021’s 38th percentile and 2019’s 50th percentile in both English language arts and math. Student growth measures how much students progressed in one year compared to other students in their grade statewide who started at the same baseline. In contrast, proficiency rates reflect the percentage of students who met or exceeded grade level standards, regardless of where they started. Illinois has among the most rigorous proficiency standards
in the nation. As expected, about 20 percent fewer students met or exceeded grade level standards on spring 2022 assessments, compared to 2019.
Following the state’s Learning Renewal Resource Guide
– a national model – school districts and the state started investing $7.8 billion of federal pandemic relief funds in proven initiatives such as high-impact tutoring, summer school, additional teachers, and mental health supports.
“The 2022 Illinois Report Card data tell us that we are absolutely on the right track,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “We have challenges and work ahead of us, but the accelerated rate of learning that students achieved last year means that we’re headed in the right direction. The ways in which we invested the federal pandemic relief funds are working. We can expect to see even more growth over the next couple years as these programs expand and reach even more students.
“The 2022 data also show historic highs in college and career readiness, including the highest graduation rate in 12 years, driven by gains for our Black and Hispanic students. This is what equity looks like: when we improve supports for historically disadvantaged students, everyone’s performance benefits.”
Growing teacher workforce
The data show a growing teacher workforce with the state adding more than 2,500 full-time teachers, including more than 500 Black and Hispanic teachers, last year. The 2022 school year establishes a four-year trend of strengthening and diversifying the teacher pipeline. Teacher retention also hit a nine-year high at 87.6% of teachers returning to the same school year to year. The state has invested heavily in strengthening and diversifying the teacher pipeline and has successfully defied nationwide teacher shortage trends.
Increased college and career readiness
Students’ college and career readiness rebounded last year with the highest graduation rate in 12 years at 87.3% - the highest graduation rate since ISBE began reporting the four-year adjusted cohort graduation rate in 2011. Consistent gains in the graduation rate for Black and Hispanic students over the past four years have driven the state-level increases. Illinois schools have historically graduated Black and Hispanic students at lower rates than their White and Asian peers, but 2022 data show the graduation rates for Black and Hispanic students have grown every year since 2018, in four years jumping a total of 6% for Black students and 5.3% for Hispanic students. The graduation rates for White and Asian students remained as high in 2022 as before the pandemic.
The rate of ninth graders on track to graduate in 2022 also rebounded to pre-pandemic levels at 86.6%. The rate of ninth grade students on track to graduate has increased 2.5% for Black students and 1.3% for Hispanic students since 2018.
The percentage of students enrolled in remedial classes at Illinois community colleges hit an all-time low of 26.4% for the Class of 2020, thanks to the implementation of transitional math
and English language arts courses. Reducing the community college remediation rate is a priority for ISBE and the state’s community colleges because remedial courses cost money for students to take but do not contribute to the number of credits a student needs to graduate. High school students take transitional math and English language arts courses to ensure placement into credit-bearing courses at all community colleges and accepting Illinois universities without a placement test.
The number of students taking Career and Technical Education or dual credit courses increased again in 2022, building on a positive trend that kicked off in 2018 and was boosted by a $5 million increase in state funding for Career and Technical Education beginning in fiscal year 2020.
Illinois’ enrollment in 2022 stabilized to the pre-pandemic trend of declining approximately 1 percent per year, which tracks the declining birth rate nationwide
and in Illinois. Birth rates nationwide have declined 17 percent since 1990. Births
in Illinois have declined about 2 percent per year or 19 percent total since 2010. Fewer children born means fewer students enrolled in school.
The Report Card also highlights areas of immediate need, including the finding that 30% of students were chronically absent last year, which aligns with national trends
. A chronically absent student missed 10 percent or more of the school year – approximately 17 or more days – due to excused or unexcused absences. In line with the data reported by other states, the rates of chronic absenteeism were even higher for Black students at 48%, Hispanic students at 36%, low-income students at 43%, English Learners at 35%, and students with disabilities at 40%. The sky-high rates of chronic absenteeism make the accelerated growth Illinois students accomplished even more encouraging.
ISBE has dedicated $12 million through a new state-funded grant to combat chronic absenteeism. Each of the 38 Regional Offices of Education and Intermediate Service Centers, including Chicago Public Schools, received between $180,000 and $1.2 million this fall to fund truancy intervention services, such as counseling, tutoring, credit recovery, home visits, mentoring, and transportation.
Mental health and social-emotional wellness also impact student attendance. ISBE has invested more than $100 million in mental health community partnership grants, establishing eight regional social-emotional learning hubs, and supporting school districts in adopting the Resilience Education to Advance Community Healing model of trauma-responsive schools. REACH enables districts to assess their trauma needs and create action plans to address those needs so students and staff can thrive.
Annual summative designations
returned to the 2022 Illinois Report Card for the first time since 2019, as federally required. Summative designations are based on multiple measures
of school performance, including student growth for elementary and middle schools and graduation rate for high schools. The Comprehensive and Targeted designations identify schools to receive additional funding and support for school improvement. ISBE amended every indicator
in the accountability system to account for the impact of the pandemic on school performance metrics and urges caution in comparing 2022 designations to 2019, since the designations are based on essentially two different accountability systems.
Equity Journey Continuum
The 2022 Illinois Report Card features a brand new data element called the Equity Journey Continuum, which serves as an informational tool for districts to track their progress toward closing gaps in student achievement, opportunities, and supports. The tool analyzes data points that districts already collect and report to ISBE, through the lens of equity, to make that data more useful for improving outcomes for all students.